A light moment during an intense discussion

During the intense schedule at the fall general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops each November, not every interesting exchange makes it into our stories. But there was a moment during the debate on the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document yesterday that is too good to pass up.

Usually when a committee rejects proposed amendments to a document, the full body of bishops approves that recommendation with little discussion. But when an amendment suggested by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Chicago was turned down, he soldiered on by citing a very contemporary example.

At issue was a section of the document that referred to “the intentional targeting of noncombatants in war.” Bishop Paprocki wanted an amendment that would change the wording to “the direct and intentional targeting.” The committee argued that the change was redundant and unnecessary.

But “we’ve all heard of hunters who have shot people in the face when they did not intend to,” Bishop Paprocki said in a not-too-veiled reference to Vice President Dick Cheney’s February 2006 hunting accident. “That’s direct, but it’s not intentional.”

The comment drew a hearty laugh from the bishops, and Bishop Paprocki’s amendment passed on a voice vote.

‘Archbishop Flynn responds to letter writer on abuse’

Two weeks ago we posted an item here linking to Archbishop Harry J. Flynn’s commentary on an Associated Press national study on child sex abuse in public schools. This week his archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul, Minn., publishes his remarkable follow-up column, which includes the text of a letter from a parishioner who was sharply critical — the letter begins, “I realize this letter won’t be printed as the bishop owns the paper and the ink” — of the archbishop’s original column.

Bioethical issues examined by National Catholic Reporter

In this week’s National Catholic Reporter, John Allen takes a comprehensive look at some of the bioethical issues facing the church today. One of those issues is organ transplants and the related issue of when death actually occurs for the donor, so Allen has a sidebar story called “The nightmare scenario of organ donation.”